Confessions of a Writer Tag

https://twitter.com/alpha_annelisa  caught me in this game of tag.
[originator of tag by Nicolette Elzie at  A Little Bookish, A Little Writerly]
Here are my answers. Look forward to reading yours!

When did you first start writing? Was being a writer something you always aspired to be? – Honestly I can’t remember not writing. I taught myself to read when I was 3 and the next logical step was to then put my own words on the page. I wrote my first little book when I was 8, was made editor of the school paper when I was 9 beating out kids three years older than me, was winning contests for poetry and short stories before I finished grade school, and wrote a script when I was 12 that was pure rubbish.

And then I went on to university and became an architect, albeit one with poetry posted all over my studio space. That’s when writing became an art for me. Encouraged by my professor Bob Condia, who used the works of E. E. Cummings to teach architecture, I thrived. For a time. But without an outlet for publishing my work and a growing career in architecture ahead of me, writing sort of fizzled out for a while.

It didn’t stay dead though. When my first child was 9 he was diagnosed with autism. We’d known something wasn’t quite right for a time but that’s when it became official. My days were filled with dealing with his issues and little else. I escaped by reading. One day I went to the library and couldn’t find anything I wanted to read, so I decided I’d write a book. That became my escape every day. Those few precious minutes when I didn’t have to think about autism, the decline of my marriage, being poor, things from  my past … it was the one link left to ME. When we had an ice storm that knocked out power for ten days, I even found myself writing on scraps of paper and the back of envelopes. I couldn’t quit.

After I’d written a triology, and rewritten it, and rewritten it again, I decided I needed to know how to publish it and took a class on novel writing with William Bernhardt. It was eye opening, hard core, kick me in the gut learning curve … but it reinforced my notion of being a writer.

What genre do you write?  – Name it, I’ve probably written in it. Mainly I stick to mystery/suspense/thriller region in both adult and YA but I also have a horror short story series on Amazon under my pen name (E P Ferguson), a vampire novel (because what self-respecting novelist wouldn’t), a deep historical fiction piece about segregation in the 1930’s US south, and I just started a romance novel (complete surprise to me).

Can you tell us a little about your current work in progress? When did you start working on this project?  – Which one? Ha. I don’t have an off switch … in writing or anything else. I hit the ‘play’ button and cruise until I crash. I have four WiP’s and probably another six or so in planning stages.

My words on the page work this month has been THE SKETCHBOOK, a YA suspense set in NYC about a gifted teenage girl with a schizophrenic mother, a dead grandfather who was a detective in the NYPD, an eccentric great aunt who teaches archaeology at Columbia, and dad she’s never met. Skating through life on her own pretty much, she’s convinced she’s going crazy as well. But when one of her teachers is attacked and left for dead, her world is rearranged. In the course of solving the mystery of what happened to her teacher, she finds that her crazy is not only perfect for her but that she can also use it to help others as well.

What was your first piece that you can remember writing? What was it about? – The first little story I wrote was about my teddy bear and his night under the Christmas tree. Our family has a tradition that the first teddy bear a new baby receives is from their grandfather on their first Christmas. The bear is then placed under the empty Christmas tree on Christmas eve every year from then on. Tradition. I, as an 8 year old, was worried about my bear being alone and fantasized about what happened. I even drew pictures and colored them. 🙂

What’s the best part about writing?  – Giving voice to the alternative universes living inside me … Ha. Seriously, engaging the readers. I have a short story series on Amazon that I’ve been posting once a month or so and after the second and third volumes I had readers who were telling me “write faster” because they couldn’t wait to find out what happened. That was thrilling, to know that I’d captured their imaginations enough to keep them wanting more. 

What’s the worst part about writing? – Finding other writers to connect with in a consistent way who are able and willing to critique honestly. I’d love to have someone who loves my writing and is still perfectly willing to send it back to me dripping in red ink. So I guess the worst part for me is being isolated, not having the help I need.

What’s the name of your favourite character and why?  – My favourite character that I’ve written? Oh wow. Hmm … probably my house maid from my short story series named Sadie. She’s a girl from Scotland plunged into a her first employment in Cornwall, isolated in a manor house that descends into madness, in 1868. I patterned her after my Scottish grandmother who was very spunky her entire life and never let the chips get her down. This girl’s the same way. She takes the horrors around her in stride despite being only 14. 

How much time a day/week do you get to write? When is the best time for you to write (morning or night)?  – My time varies some. I still have a couple of kids at home and I live on a farm with goats, chickens, ducks, turkeys, rabbits, and a huge huge garden. Some days my time is not my own. I usually can squeeze in two to three hours of writing over all but it’s usually disrupted in some way. I write best late at night or in the wee early hours of the morning. No interruptions then. Some nights I just stay up and write while everyone else is sleeping and then take a nap in the morning. I don’t really have an off switch though. 

Did you go to college for writing? – Other than taking the odd creative writing course and the mandatory Freshman English array, no. I have B. Arch from Oklahoma State University. After I received my degree I flitted off to London to work.

What bothers you more: spelling errors, punctuation errors or grammar errors? – In my own writing, I’m prone to punctuation errors because I don’t really care about them. Lol. Spelling errors annoy me the most in other people’s writing, though. I don’t read too many things that have big grammar errors, but I’ve come across some posts on forums and things that make me cringe. I figure all that stuff can be corrected anyway so I don’t get too worked up about it.

What is the best writing advice that anyone has given you?  – William Bernhardt used to tell us – Butt in chair, words on page. For getting it done, that works well and plays in my head every day. 

But David Morrell told me – you have to write what you feel, what moves you emotionally. If you can tap into that energy, you can write anything and people will read it and want more. That’s what makes us human. That’s what connects us. I strive to do this every day.

What advice would you give to another writer?  – Nothing you write is ever wrong. Don’t think that. Keep going. Even in your crappiest moments and most unintelligible words on the page, there is something useful to be found. 

What are your favourite writing sites or blogs that you turn to for help, tips or encouragement?   – Wish I had some to share. I kind of falter around until I find something I like. Honestly, twitter has been a gold mine for me as random as it is. I’m a pretty avid follower of Writing Digest, though and I follow David Morrell and Andrew E. Kaufman on Facebook. They are both fonts of wisdom in the writing world. 

Besides writing, what else do you enjoy doing? What are your hobbies?   – Oh boy. Astronomy, photography, gardening, cooking, reading, drawing, building stuff, sculpting, hiking, camping, and driving cars really really fast. And … playing the piano. I fiddle around with jazz. 

What’s the best book you’ve read this year?   – TWISTED by Andrew E. Kaufman. Oh. My. God. Read this book. He is a master. 

What is the best movie you’ve seen this year?   – THE MARTIAN … just saw it the other day. Plan on going to see it again. I love movies. They spark my writing. 

What are your plans for the rest of the year in terms of your writing?   – Finish up the two novels I’m working on, compile my short stories into  novel form, query a bunch more agents, and cross my fingers. Still have a full manuscript out to a few agents so I’m hoping to hear something back at some point. I’d also like to have a tribe of other writers I can count on for critiques and feedback and a kick in the pants when I need it. Honestly, I’m more worried about that than finding my agent, and I’m plenty worried about finding an agent.

Where else can we find you online?
Twitter – @ewiggins66

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/erin.cochran.547

Blogs – https://wingedwriting.wordpress.com/ (and) http://turkeywoodsfarm.blogspot.com/ (neglected of late)

Amazon – (This is where all the volumes of my series are. For some reason they aren’t all on my author page. Hmmm)  http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=dp_byline_sr_ebooks_1?ie=UTF8&text=E.+P.+Ferguson&search-alias=digital-text&field-author=E.+P.+Ferguson&sort=relevancerank

Consider yourself tagged:

Eric Reitan @reitan66

John Biggs @biggspirit

Matt Rydeen @RydeenMatt

Beverley Lee @constantvoice

Danielle Taylor Hand @ddthand

Christina Ochs @therollinwriter

Tagees: To make finding the questions easier, here they are:

When did you first start writing? Was being a writer something you always aspired to be?
What genre do you write?
Can you tell us a little about your current work in progress? When did you start working on this project?
What was your first piece that you can remember writing? What was it about?
What’s the best part about writing?
What’s the worst part about writing?
What’s the name of your favourite character and why?
How much time a day/week do you get to write? When is the best time for you to write (morning or night)?
Did you go to college for writing?
What bothers you more: spelling errors, punctuation errors or grammar errors?
What is the best writing advice that anyone has given you?
What advice would you give to another writer?
What are your favourite writing sites or blogs that you turn to for help, tips or encouragement?
Besides writing, what else do you enjoy doing? What are your hobbies?
What’s the best book you’ve read this year?
What is the best movie you’ve seen this year?
What is your favourite book or series of all time?
Who is your favourite author?
What are your plans for the rest of the year in terms of your writing?
Where else can we find you online?

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11 thoughts on “Confessions of a Writer Tag

  1. Enjoyed the read, Erin! Seriously impressed that you were an architect. That means numbers and my brain runs to hide at the mere mention of those 😉 You have incredible energy to be able to pull off those multi WIP’s but it’s true that our brain never really switches off from the words.
    The Martian is on my list to see *and* read, heard great things about it. Will definitely check out that book recommendation too!

  2. “I wrote my first little book when I was 8, was made editor of the school paper when I was 9 beating out kids three years older than me, was winning contests for poetry and short stories before I finished grade school, and wrote a script when I was 12 that was pure rubbish.”

    Color me impressed! Writer and editor in the blood for sure. Erin, this was wonderful to read! Thank you for sharing. I would like to become a part of your writer tribe! But I have to confess that at the moment, I am not very consistent with availability. I’ve just returned to a demanding job (a month ago), and am finding it difficult to readjust. I’ve been struggling to tap back into my creativity, feeling depleted of energy at the end of the day. My goal for November will be to attain a regular social media and writing/editing schedule, come hell or high water.

    But, for what it’s worth, when I get myself back on track, let’s connect for feedback opportunities. I’m happy to provide honest, supportive, and *constructive* criticism in return for the same! 🙂

    • Absolutely Matt. That would be fabulous! I’ll keep an eye out for your return. Smoothing out transitions can be tricky, especially balancing work and writing. I just connected with the editor of my dreams. Met him 6 months ago and worked with him at a writing conference. He’s been super busy so I never thought I’d get the opportunity to work with him professionally but this week he had some openings and I jumped at the chance. I also connected with a cover designer and was accepted for my first author’s fair. Feels kind of like a fairy tale … but I know it’s just been hard hard work. Looking forward to connecting!

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